—–ON THE AGENDA—–
PUTIN WILL UNVEIL A BRIDGE TO CRIMEA
Agence France Presse reports, “Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to unveil Tuesday a highly symbolic bridge linking southern Russia to the Crimea, four years after the peninsula was annexed from Ukraine.” Oh look, it’s Vova’s bridge to nowhere! Not that Crimea is nowhere rather that is the destination of the future of Russia under his watch and it all kicked off with the annexation of Crimea.
From Agence France Presse.
WELCOME TO AN AGE OF FORMER USA SPONSORED STATE TERROR
Yesterday, a threshold was crossed and the former USA sponsored slaughter began in earnest. If you turned on the television or Twitter at any point, you could see a split screen of Aryan princess Ivanka and fake Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin all smiles as they unveiled a new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem as if it was just another one of Daddy’s scams. And nearby, Israel, which has every right to defend its borders like any other, responded with bullets and death at the border to the total frustration and hopelessness of the Palestinian nation that just had a match lit under it with the aforementioned needless act of the Embassy opening in a divided Jerusalem. As The Washington Post aptly described it, “Amid the happy bustle of about 800 guests, as Jared Kushner spoke, the controversial evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress blessed the occasion and President Trump delivered a prerecorded video address, there was little indication of what was unfolding less than 60 miles away on the border between Israel and Gaza.” If you somehow still harbor delusions that Trump and his traitor trash family care about your lives and your family more than they do these “others” (Palestinians, immigrants), you are sorely mistaken. Welcome to the age of state terror! State terror is distinguished from terrorism, where non-state actors (with or without state sponsorship) attack civilian targets, from the fact that the state directly attacks civilians and no longer sees a need for intermediaries to deflect responsibility for mass death. Trumpistan is now ruled by a Christian death cult but instead of El Baghdadi at the helm, Fox News is. One of our fake Russian president’s favorite propagandists Jeanine Pirro wrote on the Fox News site, “He, like King Cyrus before him, fulfilled the biblical prophecy of the gods,” less you have any doubt TRUMPISTAN WATCH is somehow being needlessly or inaccurately hyperbolic. We all know that while Trump sees himself as an eternal victim like all authoritarians and cult leaders, he prefers to think of himself as a god. If you have not already, now is the time to prepare for slaughter. The death cult leaders are only interested in their lives, our lives mean nothing to them and never will. To them, we will always be the “others”.
CONSEQUENCES: TURKEY RECALLS AMBASSADORS IN WASHINGTON, TEL AVIV
CNN reports, “Turkey is recalling its ambassadors to the US and Israel in an official protest of the Trump administration’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” CNN adds, “a spokesperson for the Turkish Embassy said ‘we don’t know at this stage’ adding that the US ambassador was recalled for ‘consultations.’” Recall Turkey is a NATO member.
TWITLER’S PROJECTION ON HIGH WITH “TRAITORS + COWARDS”
CNN reports, “From his perch atop a White House full of leakers on Monday, President Trump tweeted, ‘leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!’” LOL here is looking at you, kid! He also blamed the fake news media, which is totally incoherent because if the leaks are real, then the media is fake?
THE THUGS ARE KINGS WHEN A DEATH CULT IS IN POWER
Fox News reports, “Corey Lewandowski, who helped Donald Trump win the Republican nomination,” but not without being charged with assault and fired because Aryan princess Ivanka, “is getting back in the campaign game. He is joining Vice President Pence’s political action committee, which will enable him to travel with the VP and puts him firmly back in the president’s 2020 reelection orbit”. As if he ever left! Fox News notes, “Lewandowski discussed the move with Trump before accepting the offer and is taking the job with the president’s blessing”. With god and Evangelical supporters of the death cult GOP as his cover, “By hiring such a high-profile Trump adviser, Pence is also sending a signal that there’s no daylight between him and his boss”. Fox News notes, “The Great America Committee is the first such political arm created by a sitting vice president, but can only be used to donate to other campaigns and not to back any future Pence effort,” as if the regime respects “law and order” as it claims. Fox News adds, “Lewandowski is leaving the pro-Trump group America First Policies, which has served as something of a way station for presidential advisers in transition. By working for the nonprofit America First and its fundraising arm, Lewandowski faced certain restrictions on campaign travel and other overt political activity that could be viewed as improper coordination with the Trump team. Since the Pence committee raises and distributes so-called hard money, none of those restrictions apply.”
From Fox News.
FBI AGENTS DETAINED JOSEPH MIFSUD LINKED LAWYER
The Atlantic reports, “FBI agents working for special counsel Robert Mueller allegedly detained a lawyer with ties to Russia who is closely associated with Joseph Mifsud”. The Atlantic adds, “The revelation was made in a book co-written by that lawyer, Stephan Roh, and set to be published next month.” The Atlantic recalls, “In the spring of 2016, Mifsud told a young Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, that Russia had ‘dirt’ on Clinton in the form of ‘thousands of emails,’ according to the special counsel’s statement of the offense against Papadopoulos, who was indicted for misleading federal agents about his conversations with Mifsud.” The Atlantic adds, “The lawyer allegedly questioned by Mueller’s team, Stephan Roh, is a German multimillionaire with ties to Russia. He hired Mifsud as a ‘business-development consultant’ in 2015, and is Mifsud’s ‘partner and best friend’ and ‘the money behind him,’ Papadopoulos’s wife, Simona Mangiante, who worked for Mifsud briefly, told me.” The Atlantic continues, “Roh intersected with Mifsud at two institutions: the now-defunct London Academy of Diplomacy and Link Campus University, a private institution in Rome that Roh co-owns, and where Mifsud taught briefly. In April 2016, Mifsud and Roh spoke on a panel together at the Kremlin-backed Valdai Club”. According to his book, “Roh and his co-author Thierry Pastor, who also knows Mifsud, write in the book that, upon arriving in New York City with his family in October 2017, ‘one of the co-authors’ was ‘fished from the passport control’ line at John F. Kennedy airport while his family ‘was retained with armed police force.’ (Photos posted by Roh’s wife on social media in October 2017 suggest she was visiting New York in late October.) He was then interrogated for ‘hours,’ they write, by ‘a team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigating Russia-Gate.’”
From The Atlantic.
UKRAINIAN POLITICIAN WITH FAKE PEACE PLAN CALLED BY MUELLER
POLITICO reports, “A Ukrainian politician who communicated with Trump associates about a controversial plan to resolve Ukraine’s conflict with Kremlin-backed rebels said Monday that he has been called to testify before a grand jury connected to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Andrii Artemenko said he could not provide details of his upcoming appearance before the grand jury, which he said is scheduled for Friday. But he said he assumed he would be asked about the peace plan, about which he communicated with Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney, in early 2017.” POLITICO recalls, “The New York Times reported in February 2017 that Artemenko had contacted Felix Sater, a former business associate of Trump’s, to find out how he could make his plan for peace in Ukraine known to the Trump administration. Sater introduced Artemenko to Cohen, who left the plan in the office of then-national security adviser Michael Flynn,” adding in parenthesis, “(Cohen has denied that, saying he threw the document away.)” POLITICO notes how fake the peace plan was as, “Among the plan’s proposals was the idea of leasing to Russia the Crimean Peninsula — which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014 — for 50 years, in exchange for ending the ongoing war in Ukraine’s Donbass region. The back-channel effort also sought to have the Trump administration drop sanctions against Russia imposed by the Obama White House.” POLITICO notes, “Artemenko was ejected from his political party, and Ukraine’s top prosecutor launched an investigation into whether he had committed treason.” POLITICO adds, “In May 2017, Ukrainian officials stripped him of his citizenship, ostensibly because he also held a Canadian passport. Artemenko said he was being punished politically for opposing President Petro Poroshenko, whom he also accused of corruption.”
NOW WE KNOW GOWDY IS THERE FOR COVER FOR DARKNESS AT NUNES
Fox News reports, “Two senior House Republicans are accusing the Justice Department of being behind ‘anonymous attacks’ in the press targeting a House Intelligence Committee GOP staffer who helped author the committee’s well-publicized memo alleging surveillance abuse by the FBI and DOJ during the 2016 election. The same House staffer is also a driving force behind the latest Russia records standoff.” Fox News notes, “Nunes and Gowdy were reacting to a weekend New York Times report that cited anonymous sources in detailing growing tension between the parties, amid a contentious request for records involving an individual and intelligence reporting that may have been used for the Russia case, as well as in obtaining surveillance warrants.” Wait, they read the fake news media? Fox News adds, “Citing a former federal law enforcement official, The New York Times reported that Rosenstein, who oversees the Russia probe, felt ‘misled’ by Nunes’ staff over House Intelligence Committee investigator Kash Patel’s travel to London last year. The newspaper, citing the same official, reported Rosenstein wanted to know if Patel was attempting to interview former British spy Christopher Steele, the author behind the salacious anti-Trump dossier.” Fox News adds, “The New York Times story also reported that House Speaker Paul Ryan encouraged Gowdy go with Nunes ‘to help keep the meeting civil’ at the Justice Department last Thursday to go over the committee’s records request.” So now we know what Gowdy is doing: providing cover for DARKNESS AT NUNES to have his little treasonous tantrums. Remember, absolutely everything is fake with the death cult! Even the civility, when there is any because oh, how easily it is shattered! Remember this before you allow an iota of hope over the Koreas to enter your head.
From Fox News.
RUSSIA TARGETED AMERICAN TEENAGE GIRLS ONLNE IN 2016
The Daily Beast reports, “The Kremlin-linked Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency took an ominous detour into malware distribution in the middle of the 2016 presidential campaign, targeting teenage girls in the U.S. with a Chrome plug-in that pulled their browsers into a crude botnet”. The Daily Beast elaborates, “The app, called FaceMusic, was billed as an embedded music player that would allow users to listen to free tunes while browsing Facebook. The Internet Research Agency purchased Facebook ads promoting the app in May 2016 through one of its fraudulent profiles, ‘Stop All Invaders,’ which normally pushed xenophobic anti-immigration memes in support of the Donald Trump campaign.” The Daily Beast adds, “In total, more than 13,000 machines were likely infected by the FaceMusic malware”. The Daily Beast adds, “Google has since removed the malicious app from the Chrome store, and the public FaceMusic website at fbmusic[.]com is now defunct. But an examination of an archived copy of the code, coupled with an analysis of its web traffic, shows it packed hidden functionality that was active even when the victim wasn’t on Facebook.” The Daily Beast notes, “By all evidence it does not harvest user information—beyond the user’s Facebook ID and profile picture—nor does it expose or corrupt the computer’s files.” The Daily Beast continues, “What this version of FaceMusic did have was a secret line of communication to a second, private website in Russia that lived at the address extad[.]info—‘extad’ being a transliteration of the Russian word for ‘export,’” and there is “no outward evidence that anything is happening.” The Daily Beast adds, “there are a couple of possible reasons it could be useful to an organization dedicated to circulating fake news and divisive memes.” One reason: “The troll farm might also have used the app to generate traffic for web articles written or approved by the agency, to encourage more of the same.”
From The Daily Beast.
RUSSIA CAN’T FIGHT SANCTIONS SO WILL SANCTION THEIR OWN
Meduza reports, “Lawmakers in the State Duma are planning to introduce amendments that would again expand the reach of the so-called ‘Dima Yakovlev law,’ which the government passed in 2012 to authorize measures against people allegedly responsible for violating Russian citizens’ rights. The law itself was a response to the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which imposed visa restrictions on Russians believed to be involved in human rights crimes. The latest revisions to the Dima Yakovlev law would allow officials to target ‘foreigners who interfere in Russian elections.’” Since Russia does not really produce anything but crime and corruption and relies so heavily on imports, it’s last effort at counter-sanctions following the sanctions imposed after it annexed Crimea became a massive national headache. Meduza adds, “A lawmaker who helped write the new legislation says it would allow officials to outlaw any foreign organization that is found guilty of interfering in Russia’s elections. The State Duma apparently plans to target American and British organizations most of all.”
RUMOR OF HIGH PROFILE KREMLIN AIDE VLADISLAV SURKOV’S RESIGNATION
Russian state-run Tass reports, “The Kremlin does not comment on rumors about the resignation of Acting Presidential Aide Vladislav Surkov, as it never makes staff reshuffle announcements, Acting Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.” TRUMPISTAN WATCH has used the term “Surkovian” often to refer to hybrid war activities involving unusually theatrical components, often driven by celebrities or other culturally significant indicators, often encompassed with the shorthand of “covfefe,” meaning highly distracting and entertaining chimera. Surkov currently serves as the envoy to Ukraine talks, meeting several times with U.S. envoy Kurt Volker. Russian state-run Tass acknowledges his ever diminishing influence after the 2011 Bolotnaya protests in Russia at the very least insofar as it reports, “When [Peskov was] asked if Surkov’s dismissal could affect the Kremlin’s position on the Ukrainian crisis, the acting presidential spokesman pointed out that it was the head of state and not some state officials who determined the country’s foreign policy.” TRUMPISTAN WATCH’s take: there was a time when these theatrics could be useful to provide the illusion of democratic society but who has such pretenses among the people or the leaders now? The American operation, which was largely built on these techniques has also rapidly spun beyond anyone’s control now, so naturally the Kremlin retreats to what it knows best, namely the old KGB playbook. Even if Surkov remains, like previous rumors about Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov being removed, this tempers his influence greatly.
From Russian state-run Tass.
VIKTOR VEKSELBERG’S RENOVA GETS A CREDIT LINE FROM RUSSIAN BANK
Reuters reports, “Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg’s Renova Group received a credit line from Promsvyazbank last week to support the business after it was hit by U.S. sanctions, Russia’s finance ministry said on Monday.” Reuters adds, “It is the first instance of state support to a Russian company targeted in a wave of U.S. sanctions imposed in April”. Reuters notes, “Russia’s central bank took over Promsvyazbank in a bailout last year. The lender was then earmarked by the government to provide credit to sanctioned entities so that other lenders could offload the risk.”
NORDSTREAM2 CONSTRUCTION UNDERWAY
Reuters reports, “A consortium of western companies and Russia’s Gazprom that is due to build the controversial subsea Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany said on Tuesday it was starting preparatory work in the Greifswald bay off Germany’s Baltic coast.” Reuters notes, “Denmark still has to rule whether the pipeline can be built near its coast, for which there is no concrete timing.”
KASPERSKY TO OPEN SWISS DATA CENTER FOR SHOW
Reuters reports, “Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab plans to open a data center in Switzerland by the end of next year to help address Western government concerns that Russia exploits its anti-virus software to spy on customers.” Reuters, citing the company’s internal documents, adds, “The company believes moving these operations to Switzerland will address concerns about laws that enable Russian security services to monitor data transmissions inside Russia and force companies to assist law enforcement agencies”. You would have to be a fool to think Switzerland is beyond the reach of Russia’s intelligence services but it is some very fine and very pricey window dressing for sure.
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS RULES IN NAVALNY’S FAVOR, AGAIN!
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered Russia to pay opposition politician Aleksei Navalny 2,000 euros ($2,400) in compensation for what it ruled was the unlawful refusal to issue him a passport. The decision was posted on the court’s website on May 15.”
ITALY’S NEW 5STAR MOVEMENT GIVES RUSSIA AN OPENING
POLITICO reports, “The populist alliance preparing to take charge of Italy is likely to provide EU officials with plenty of headaches. For the first time since the EU was formed, one of the bloc’s founding members could soon be governed by leaders who have been openly skeptical of the European project.” POLITICO adds, “As the anti-establishment 5Star Movement and the far-right League prepare to take the reins of the eurozone’s third largest economy, here are six areas,” that could fuck all things democratic and surprise, number three is Russia! POLTICO reports, “One of the first victims of a government under the 5Stars and the League could be the EU’s Russia sanctions policy. In April, Salvini said in a tweet that when it comes to Moscow, he intends to scrap ‘absurd sanctions that are causing incalculable damage to the Italian economy.’ Ties between the League and Russia are particularly tight; last year the party signed a ‘cooperation deal’ with Vladimir Putin’s ruling party.” POLITICO adds, “The first testing ground will be June’s European Council when member countries will vote on whether or not to renew sanctions against Russia. Since unanimity is required, opposition from Rome would be enough to bring them to an end.” Another factor that could bolster these ties is number four, illiberalism! As POLITICO notes another Russian favorite comes to play as, “One EU leader is likely to welcome a new Italian political order: Viktor Orbán.” Under Orban, Russia’s intelligence services have gotten comfy and cozy in Budapest.
LET IT BLEED
Bloomberg reports, “Special Counsel Robert Mueller urged a federal judge to reject a request by Paul Manafort, the indicted former Trump campaign chairman, for a hearing to determine whether government officials improperly leaked secret grand-jury information to the news media.” Bloomberg adds, “U.S. prosecutors said in a filing Monday that defense attorneys had failed to provide evidence,” that the source of the leaks was from the grand jury.
Business Insider reports, “A Russian company accused by Special Counsel Robert Mueller of funding a propaganda operation to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is asking a federal judge for access to secret information reviewed by a grand jury before it indicted the firm.” Business Insider adds, “In a court filing on Monday, lawyers for Concord Management and Consulting LLC said Mueller had wrongfully accused the company of a ‘make-believe crime,’ in a political effort by the special counsel to ‘justify his own existence’ by indicting ‘a Russian-any Russian.’” The Russian mafia state begs to be taken seriously but then when it is, as a criminal indictment is the most serious of things, it cries Russophobia. What else is new? The more things change…
From Business Insider.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
TRUMP’S WAR ON “DEEP STATE” OR THE OCCUPATION OF THE EX-USA
The New Yorker reports, “Typically, an incoming President seeks to charm, co-opt, and, when necessary, coerce the federal workforce into executing his vision. But Trump got to Washington by promising to unmake the political ecosystem, eradicating the existing species and populating it anew. This project has gone by various names: Stephen Bannon, the campaign chief, called it the ‘deconstruction of the administrative state’—the undoing of regulations, pacts, and taxes that he believed constrain American power. In Presidential tweets and on Fox News, the mission is described as a war on the ‘deep state,’ the permanent power élite. Nancy McEldowney, who retired last July after thirty years in the Foreign Service, told me, ‘In the anatomy of a hostile takeover and occupation, there are textbook elements—you decapitate the leadership, you compartmentalize the power centers, you engender fear and suspicion. They did all those things.’” The New Yorker notes, “Trump has elevated loyalty to the primary consideration. Since he has no fixed ideology, the White House cannot screen for ideas, so it seeks a more personal form of devotion.” For example, “Kellyanne Conway, one of his most dedicated attendants, refers reverently to the ‘October 8th coalition,’ the campaign stalwarts who remained at Trump’s side while the world listened to a recording of him boasting about grabbing women by the genitals.” The New Yorker adds, “Some of the vacancies are deliberate,” noting how, “In Trump’s first nine months, more than seventy-nine thousand full-time workers quit or retired,” and, “To Trump and his allies, the departures have been liberating, a purge of obstructionists.” So please, if you are on the job and loyal to this nation, stay on the job, we need you there, as “the larger drama, Stier said, is unfolding ‘below the waterline,’ far from the cameras and the West Wing, among little-known deputies and officers in the working ranks of government.” The New Yorker notes, “Since taking office, Trump has attacked the integrity of multiple parts of his government, including the F.B.I. (‘reputation is in tatters’) and the Department of Justice (‘embarrassment to our country’). His relationship with the State Department is especially vexed.” The New Yorker outlines how many in the State Department have been re-assigned to bureaucratic purgatory or left to deal with FOIA requests, something that has been mirrored elsewhere in the federal government, TRUMPISTAN WATCH hears, with similarly mundane and time consuming tasks removed from the core mission. As a result, “For many in government, Trump’s antagonistic relationship to facts is no longer just a matter of politics. It now affects day-to-day governance.” An absolute must read.
PRINCELING JARED’S ACTIONS KILL, OTHERS ARE ALWAYS “THE PROBLEM”
POLITICO reports, “The first stage of a multibillion-dollar military-VA digital health program championed by Jared Kushner has been riddled with problems so severe they could have led to patient deaths”. POLITICO adds, “The April 30 report expands upon the findings of a March POLITICO story in which doctors and IT specialists expressed alarm about the software system, describing how clinicians at one of four pilot centers, Naval Station Bremerton, quit because they were terrified they might hurt patients, or even kill them. Experts who saw the Pentagon evaluation — it lists 156 ‘critical’ or ‘severe’ incident reports with the potential to result in patient deaths — characterized it as ‘devastating.’” Of course responsibility for ones actions is nothing the regime takes seriously as POLITICO notes, “A White House spokesman noted Friday afternoon that Kushner had no involvement with DOD’s contract with Cerner. He did advise VA officials last year to contract with Cerner because the military was already using the vendor, and he argued the creation of a seamless, unified system would allow records to be shared between military and VA treatment centers.” Remember, princeling Jared once donned a flak jacket so he feels qualified to make such recommendations. Similarly yesterday, as Palestinians were being slaughtered nearby and princeling Jared indulged in a glitzy ceremony at the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, princeling Jared saw fit to lecture that they were “part of the problem,” not the regime that stoked the extremist sentiments which he serves. With the regime, it is always everyone else’s fault when in fact they have no one but themselves to blame for mass casualties caused by their negligence and incompetence.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE INSANE EXTREMIST AT THE J’LEM EMBASSY OPENING
The Washington Post reports, “One of President Trump’s closest evangelical advisers gave the prayer Monday at the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. But Robert Jeffress’s past comments about other faiths, including Judaism, followed him to the event. Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, a Southern Baptist megachurch in Texas, regularly talks about the significance of Jerusalem to conservative Christians — a major component of Trump’s base of supporters.” See: not about the Jooz. This is about a group of Christian extremists who rule the death cult GOP and see everyone else as their pawns. They are joined by extremists among the Jooz, not normal Jooz who just want to be left alone like everyone else, because some think the ends justifies the means at any cost, including the cost to one’s personal dignity. Not everyone in the former USA’s Republican Party is unaware of this as The Washington Post notes, “Long before Jeffress began defending Trump on cable news, he made headlines for attacking other Americans whose faith is different from his own — something former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney noted Sunday on Twitter. ‘Robert Jeffress says “you can’t be saved by being a Jew,” and “Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.” He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem,’ tweeted Romney, a candidate for the Senate in Utah and a Mormon,” rather missing the whole former USA is in the hands of a death cult now thing. Of Jooz, Jeffress has said, “God sends good people to Hell. Not only do religions like Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism — not only do they lead people away from God, they lead people to an eternity of separation from God in Hell.” Hear that Aryan princess Ivanka and princeling Jared? Mnuchin?
From The Washington Post.
LIFE LESSONS OF A FORMERLY RAGING RUSSOPHILE MICHAEL MCFAUL
Slate reports, “From 2012 to 2014, Michael McFaul served as Barack Obama’s ambassador to Russia,” and he has a book out. With Slate he discusses, “how people still misunderstand Putin’s power,” as he and his boss did, “whether the Obama team did enough to combat Russian interference,” which if you have to ask, “and what has and hasn’t surprised him about the still mysterious Russia scandal.” Sadly McFaul tells Slate, “I do not think we were destined to be in this conflictual relationship based on interests, or history, or the balance of power in the international system. I don’t see it that way at all,” not quite grasping yet that the modern Russian mafia state only sees the world as vassals and enemies, as the Soviet state it succeeds did. The delusions continue as he sees daylight between Putin and Medvedev: “Putin came back as president. One might have thought that the difference between being prime minister and president wouldn’t have been that much on policy. It turned out to be rather fundamental, because his worldview was very different than President [Dmitry] Medvedev,” rather than viewing Medvedev as an active measure with one target in mind: Barack Obama. McFaul posits, “What if there was no Arab Spring? It wasn’t inevitable that that would happen the way it did. We most certainly didn’t anticipate it, I can tell you that. What if there weren’t popular demonstrations in Russia against the regime? I think U.S.-Russian relations would have been on a very different trajectory. Same with Ukraine. Those were all shocks to the U.S.-Russia relationship, exogenous shocks”. But even without, Russia seems to have had a far better grasp on the former USA and its political system than we did of theirs, as evidenced by this interview. Most horrifyingly though is the fact that even a former U.S. Ambassador refers to the “Eurasian Economic Union,” a dead fish in the water for all who have even heard of it, along with its bedfellow, the other Russian neo-imperial “Novorossiya” fantasy. At least McFaul learned, “that Vladimir Putin uses surrogates all the time, business surrogates, to create leverage with people through business arrangements, usually through corrupt business arrangements. That’s how he creates leverage against the oligarchs inside of Russia, and that’s how he operates in parts of the post-Soviet world. That murky world of giving money, paying three times the price for this, that, and the other, those are very common Putin instruments of influence”. Read if you want to appreciate the depths of misunderstanding. Viewer discretion is highly advised.
SERGEY SKRIPAL, HELPFUL HAND FOR EAST EURO INTEL AGENCIES
The New York Times reports, “The aging Russian spy,” Sergey Skripal, “had been a free man for only a few years when he turned up in Prague for a secret meeting with his former adversaries,” adding, “he got down to business, rattling off information about Russian spycraft and the activities of former colleagues that might give the Czechs an edge over their foes.” As Hillary Clinton, then First Lady once famously said, did they expect him to stay home and bake cookies? The New York Times adds, “in the years before the poisoning, Mr. Skripal, a veteran of Russia’s military intelligence agency, the G.R.U., apparently traveled widely, offering briefings on Russia to foreign intelligence operatives,” which notes, “The meetings were almost certainly approved and possibly facilitated by the British authorities as a way to both educate their allies and provide Mr. Skripal with income.” TRUMPISTAN WATCH for one expected no less, but more formidable publications are capable of mustering more incredulity than this one. So it goes The New York Times notes, “He met with Czech intelligence officials on several occasions and visited Estonia in 2016 to meet with local spies,” and adds, “Such visits were neither illegal nor unusual for defectors. But they meant that Mr. Skripal was meeting with intelligence officers working to thwart Russian operations in Europe, opening the possibility that his poisoning was a narrower act of retribution.” The New York Times adds, “The trips were kept secret, known only to a select few intelligence agents,” which opens up the possibility of a mole among them. Clearly the Russians had an eye on Skripal as The New York Times reports, “In 2013, the G.R.U. hacked into his daughter’s email accounts, according to the British government. And in 2014, his case was profiled in a Russian documentary series about the lives of Russian traitors called ‘The Price of Military Secrets’ that was financed by the Moscow government.” The New York Times notes, “The Kremlin would probably not consider sharing outdated information with foreign intelligence services to be much of a threat, said Mr. Sipher, the retired C.I.A. officer. But it would be a different matter if Mr. Skripal was being used for other purposes, like recruiting new Russian agents,” also suggesting Russia could have found out about his new work that way.
From The New York Times.
TRUMP TALKS NIGHTLY WITH MOSCOW’S MAN AT FOX SEAN HANNITY
New York Magazine reports, “On some days, they speak multiple times, with one calling the other to inform him of the latest developments. White House staff are aware that the calls happen, thanks to the president entering a room and announcing, ‘I just hung up with Hannity,’ or referring to what Hannity said during their conversations, or even ringing Hannity up from his desk in their presence.” Recall this is the guy who trolled America back when there was one instead of the former USA in the transition from free nation to occupied one with a “Make Russia great again!” tweet. New York Magazine adds, “The former White House official called the trouble caused by Hannity, and Fox more broadly, ‘a fucked-up feedback loop’ that puts Trump ‘in a weird headspace. What ends up happening is Judge Jeanine or Hannity fill him up with a bunch of crazy shit, and everyone on staff has to go and knock down all the fucking fires they started.’” As per standard operating procedure in authoritarian states where the dictator is always the victim, never the victor, “regardless of the news of the day, the overarching narrative of the show is the political persecution of Trump, and by extension of Hannity and Hannity’s viewers, at the hands of the so-called deep state and the Democratic Party, and the corrupt mainstream media, a wholly owned subsidiary of both.” In this cauldron of paranoid delusion add, “special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, a phony, petty diversion from what should be the real focus: prosecuting Hillary Clinton. Hannity admits to advising Trump, but on the air, he’s repeatedly mocked suggestions that he functions as an unofficial chief of staff and criticized the ‘fake-news media’ for not bothering to reach out to him for the truth (a spokesperson for Fox News declined multiple interview requests for this article on Hannity’s behalf).” Most interestingly we get a subtle acknowledgment of a rumor, “The talks may be more important for Trump than for Hannity in a therapeutic sense, even if it’s nearly impossible to accept what we’re seeing from the president reflects any kind of therapy. ‘He doesn’t live with his wife,’ one person who knows both men said of Trump, explaining that he lacks someone ‘to decompress’ with at the end of the day.” (Rumors have suggested Melania and Barron reside in Maryland; reporting reveals they keep separate bedrooms, at the very least.)
From New York Magazine.
ATTORNEY IN SETH RICH LITIGATION ASKS TO BE REMOVED
Law & Crime reports, “The attorney for private investigator Rod Wheeler filed papers in Manhattan federal court on Monday asking the court remove him as Wheeler’s counsel in his lawsuit against Fox News. Wheeler is suing the network, parent company 21st Century Fox, journalist Malia Zimmerman, and Ed Butowsky, who allegedly worked with Zimmerman on a story linking murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich to WikiLeaks.” Law & Crime adds, “In a declaration to the court, attorney Michael J. Willemin of the law firm Wigdor LLP cited an ‘irrevocable breakdown of the attorney-client relationship’ for his reason for wanting off the case. Willemin did not go into any further detail, but told the court that he would be willing to disclose specifics in private communications with the judge if so requested.” Law & Crime recalls, “Wheeler’s lawsuit alleges that the Fox News story about Seth Rich falsely attributed quotes to him that linked Rich to WikiLeaks. Fox News ultimately retracted the story, claiming that it did not meet their editorial standards.” Law & Crime notes, “Defendants in the case have already filed motions to dismiss, but the court has yet to rule on them. Butowsky also filed a motion calling Wheeler’s lawsuit ‘frivolous,’ and saying the court should impose sanctions on him and his attorney.”
From Law & Crime.
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